By Jeff Spector, Lead Designer – Curtis Allen Designs
Like most people, I occasionally dream about retiring somewhere fun—say, to a houseboat in Seattle, or a one-bedroom rental in Brooklyn, or maybe a chateau in Provence. But I have another fantasy, this one involving a place closer to heart, as in, my home. In this scenario, I stay exactly where I am. No downsizing. No pulling up roots. No making new friends or finding new grocery stores.
This particular fantasy puts me in good company. Almost 90% of people over 65 want to live in their home and community as long as possible. According to a report by the AARP Public Policy Institute and the National Conference of State Legislatures a whopping 80% believe they will stay in their home until they die. For some, friends and a familiar setting are the main draw, and for others, it’s an emotional attachment to the house. Either way to make this a viable answer we realize sometimes our current surroundings may not be the safest for today or future living requirements.
Curtis Allen Designs understands the needs of our clients and work with families to accomplish this. An increasing number of seniors are choosing to age in place. Staying in a familiar place increases the feeling of independence for many while having a safe and well-equipped environment makes aging in place more convenient for seniors and their families.
Yes, living. How do we accomplish this? The first consideration would be safety. Staying in a familiar place increases the feeling of independence for many and having a safe and well-equipped environment makes aging in place more convenient for seniors and their families.
Create A Beautiful Bathroom For The Ages
Attractive Upgrades Make The Bathroom A Safer Place
M ost people want to stay in their homes as long as possible. The trouble is, their homes may not be aging as well as they are. Take the bathroom, as example: because of its hard and slippery surfaces, almost 235,000 people visit the emergency room each year with injuries suffered while bathing, showering, or using the facilities. Despite that, many homeowners resist even small changes that would make the room safer because they fear their beautiful bathroom will end up looking institutional.
That’s now changing: the very things that make your bathroom safer and easier to navigate—
large, walk-in showers; higher toilets; natural lighting—are also some of the latest design trends. It’s like hiding vegetables in the meal of a finicky eater. You can conceal safety upgrades with sleek design, clever
innovations—and a few euphemisms.
“Grab bars were a real deal breaker,” says Anita Spector, an interior designer at Curtis Allen Designs. Now a grab bar bar is being called a “shower rail.” Higher-seated toilets are “comfort height.” And easy-to-use lever handles and handheld showers are “ergonomic.”
That type of adaptable design has come to be known as “aging in place,” but we prefer to use the more friendly term: “visitability,” which means making your home welcoming to people of all ages and abilities.
Unlike the access features for public spaces required by the Americans with Disabilities Act for the past 25 years, aging-in-place updates are strictly residential and aren’t bound by the stringent rules put in place by the ADA, so your bathroom can be functional without looking like a hospital. Our concept here at Curtis Allen Designs is “Safety, Access, Comfort, and Convenience”.
A curbless shower works for someone using crutches or a walker. Handheld shower¬heads can be anchored to an integrated grab bar.
The hose should be at least 6 feet long. Add a seat (some fold up when not in use). Make sure you have good light in the shower. We design a shelf or install a cubby that keeps toiletries within easy reach.
“The style variations we have available in our showroom are second to none. We sat down as a team and designed each aspect of this area”, smiles David Wietecha, CAP Specialist.
A recent client had a small master bathroom with turn faucets, a deep, treacherous bathtub, a narrow 24-inch-wide door, and a step-up shower with sliding glass doors.
Not today. The door was expanded 10 inches, and the new vanity was raised, making it gentler on the back. The couple nixed the tub and installed lever faucets. (“The grab bars and seat take away my anxiety of falling. Life couldn’t be easier!”) There is also a curbless walk-in shower with a teak fold-up chair.
Oh yes, and numerous grab bars!
“Even though they don’t need them now, you should consider putting them in and be ready for any unexpected medical conditions that may arise. Plus they are wonderful to hold on to when removing all the beach sand off your feet! It gives you that extra gripping area to balance yourself with. No matter what shape you may be in having those extra grab bars can make the chance of falling greatly diminish. Who wants to take the chance of falling?” states Jeffery Spector of Curtis Allen Designs.
The Center for Disease Control reports on the cost of falls among older adults. With the boomer generation constantly growing in size, these costs are expected to rise. The statistics are staggering of the many falls that occur in the bathroom which is a major concern of the rapidly aging population. For example, the average hospital cost for a fall injury is $35,000. When considering investing in a walk in tub, be sure to factor the total costs and related problems associated with falls. Walk-In tubs can help significantly reduce these risks.
If your mobility is compromised, walk in tubs can be a great solution. With a low step entry threshold of a few inches, getting in and out of a new walk-in tub is quite easy; you can literally walk right in and sit down.
Some bathers use walkers, scooters or wheelchairs in their homes so having a safety walk in tub can be an excellent way to keep the task of bathing as simple and as enjoyable as possible. Others simply have trouble climbing over the high edge of conventional tubs and are worried about falling. At Curtis Allen Designs, we offer wheelchair accessible bathtubs with an outward swinging door or bariatric-sized tubs for larger users. These durable products also include an ADA compliant seat, non-skid floors and safety grab rails to give you peace of mind while bathing.
Have you ever wondered why the most effective athletes soak in deep tubs after a game, or why seniors often do exercises in a swimming pool? The answer is hydrotherapy.
Using water to help cure pain has been a proven medical concept since a time dating to ancient Egyptians. Walk-in tubs can be configured with advanced hydrotherapy, including therapeutic air and whirlpool jets. By combing heat, buoyancy and massage, these systems can ease away aches and pains. Buyers of walk in tubs often struggle with symptoms associated with circulation, arthritis, fibromyalgia and more.
The warm water stream releases tight muscles and stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. These products are also unique, because they’re twice the depth of traditional tubs and allow the bather to take a fully submerged soak instead of being limited to the showerhead flow.
An often overlooked benefit of walk in tubs is they easily operate as a stand up or sit down shower as well as a deep soaking tub. Curtis Allen Designs offers a number of faucet sets with an extendable showerhead. This component can also be hung on a riser rod so the bather can choose to either use it as a stand-up shower or in a seated position. For adult children with live-in parents, this can be effective to have a dual-purpose walk in tub and shower capacity built-in.
Walk-in tubs are an investment in your future, and a simple modification to your bathroom can transform your life. Peace of mind for yourself and for your loved ones, along with independence and dignity when you use your bathroom, all add up to one thing: improving your quality of life for years to come.
No matter which Aging In Place modifications you may be considering, remember to always be sure you are dealing with a “Certified Aging in Place Specialist”. At Curtis Allen Designs, several members of our team have been educated and certified with these credentials. Please, don’t take short cuts or try and save money where your safety is concerned.
Curtis Allen Designs is a family owned business with team members who really care. “Look, my mom even works here!” says Jeffery (Lead Designer). We listen, understand and assist with all your safety, and, of course design ideas. Let us walk you into the future of Living and Aging in Place. Our showroom is open Monday to Friday between 8am and 5 pm. We look forward to meeting you there!
AGING IN PLACE